Robert Young

The Ultimate Guide To House Sitting Abroad

If you’re an adventurous sort you might be interested in taking up temporary residence in a foreign country. Have you considered house sitting abroad?

The opportunity to live like a local in a small Nicaraguan community or in remote British Colombia might at first sound appealing but once you begin to consider the logistics the thought may become a little overwhelming.

In 2011 I joined TrustedHousesitters, created a profile and began applying for my first house sitting stay. Unfamiliar with the concept I was a little unsure how to approach the task of responding to home owners who had shown interest in my profile.

A week after I sent my first application I received a reply from a family in Costa Rica. They were visiting relatives in the USA and required house and pet care for a period of six weeks.

I pay annual membership to TrustedHousesitters and have used their platform to secure sits in amazing destinations like New York, Las Vegas, Sydney, Barbados, and St Kitts & Nevis. If you choose to purchase membership through a link in this article a percentage of your payment will go to me. Thank you in advance for your support in helping to keep my blog online!

HOUSE SITTING ABROAD: FOREIGN HOUSE SITTING STAYS

Now Costa Rica was somewhere I’d come across during my school geography lessons, this I was sure. However I was having a hard time racking my brain for any further snippets of information about the country.

The inhabitants spoke Spanish, I did not. They experienced two seasons, I was used to four. The country was in sunny Central America, I was in cold and rainy England. Unfortunately my knowledge dwindled into speculative musings at this point and my internal panic alarm went off.

Accepting the assignment I booked a flight and threw myself in head first. Since then I’ve looked after over 30 homes in 11 different countries and have collated my own check list that I consult before accepting any opportunity. As such I feel I’m now relatively qualified to share my experience and hope this provides a useful tool to consult as you plan your own house sitting adventures.

VISA REQUIREMENTS AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR FOREIGN HOUSE SITS

If you’re going to be living in a foreign country your first consideration should be whether or not you will require a visa for your stay. Do not assume that your tourist visa will cover you for duration of the sit.

Jump online and find out from your embassy exactly what your options are. Most countries automatically provide a tourist visa to foreign visitors however the length of stay varies dramatically. Find out exactly how many days you’re allowed to remain in the country on the tourist visa and do not push the limit and extend your stay without authorisation or you could be faced with a hefty fine and have your re-entry to the country restricted.

Consider how you will get the visa. Will it be granted on arrival or will you need to apply before your departure?

Decide if you will need to work during the assignment to fund your stay. If so be aware that you will need to apply for the relevant employment visa. Make the home owner aware of your intention to work. It may be that they require someone to be at the property 24/7, if so this may not be a suitable sit for you.

TRANSPORT AND PRE-SIT CONSIDERATIONS

Find out what transport options will be available to you during the sit. Some home owners leave a vehicle for your use whereas others will expect you to provide your own or utilise public transport.

Investigate the local area. Find out how close you are to amenities you require and whether you can get yourself around with ease. A remote house sit may sound appealing on paper but if you have to travel three hours by bus to do grocery shopping you may decide it isn’t the opportunity for you.

Join TrustedHousesitters and enjoy house sitting abroad next time you travel!

FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS WHEN HOUSE SITTING ABROAD

  • Consider the logistics involved with travelling to and from the sit. Factor in your air fare as well as ground transport once you land. Consider public transport, vehicle hire and any additional layover accommodation costs.

READ MORE HOUSE SITTING GUIDES FROM WANDERLUSTERS

  • Protect yourself. NEVER TRANSFER MONEY TO A HOME OWNER AS A DOWN PAYMENT on utilities or to secure the sit. If asked express your concern and ask to pay in full once you arrive at the property.

THOUGHTS ON PERSONAL SAFETY

Business Class with Finnair
  • Take the time to research the local area, just because the home owner chooses to live there doesn’t mean you would. Keep up to date with local news and find out the weather patterns for the duration of the assignment.

IT IS VITAL THAT COMMUNICATE WITH THE OWNER

  • This is a vital tool for any house sitter. Without the ability to communicate with the outside world you can find yourself in a pickle. Find out what telephone and internet package you will have access to. It is vital that you can contact the relevant assistance should an emergency occur.

INVESTIGATE THE HOME OWNER’S REQUIREMENTS

4K Photo Moments House Sitting on Nevis
  • Generally all the requirements of the sit are detailed on the home owner’s advert however I like to confirm exactly what my responsibilities will entail before accepting a position. I feel it is vitally important to spend as much time as you can conversing with the home owner before committing to house sit.

CONSIDER THE LOCATION

While I have left it until now to mention this I know that for most of us location is the driving force behind our decision to house sit. We want to experience areas of the world that interest us and quench our thirst for wanderlust.

Whether it is as an affordable accommodation option when staying near family, a relaxing break from a 9 to 5, an escape to the city or an opportunity to spend time in that particular country, there is a reason you apply for some house sits and not others. Don’t forget this initial consideration.

The thought of a beach house on a remote tropical island can make even the most logical of us weak at the knees however make sure that any opportunities you are offered suit your schedule and requirements.

DISCUSS ANY CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS BEFORE COMMITTING TO SIT

A number of home owners have asked me to sign a short contract on arriving to house sit. In short it can detail whatever is required of you as a house sitter by the home owner. Ensure that you read and understand anything you are asked to sign fully and only do so if you agree to all the terms laid out in the agreement.

Don’t be afraid to ask for additional terms to be added to cover the ‘what ifs’ or extreme scenarios of any responsibilities you have been given.

RESEARCH AND THEN RESEARCH AGAIN

A small amount of time spent typing your destination into a search engine can save you the irritation of being stuck somewhere that you don’t enjoy.

House sitting is an opportunity to explore far from the well-trodden tourist trail, it provides the opportunity to experience life living as a local, take advantage of this and apply for assignments accordingly.

Travelling and living abroad can be a daunting prospect for some, yet with a little research and the patience to ensure you find out as much information as possible the experience can enrich your life.

Had you have told me two years ago that I would have learnt the basics of Macadamia farming and alpaca herding, lived in the tropical Costa Rican jungle and the icy cold winter of British Colombia all as a result of house sitting I’m not sure I would have believed you.

But here I am six years assignments later, a seasoned sitter sharing my own house sitting tips and advice. I can highly recommend joining TrustedHousesitters and starting your own house and pet sitting adventures. If you have any questions not covered in my post feel free to leave a comment or get in touch via my contact page.

INSPIRED? PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS!

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Have you ever taken on a foreign house sitting assignment? Perhaps you’re dreaming of a desert island house sit! Share your comments with me below.

Travel Blogger & Photographer
  1. Great info. We are planning to do some house-sitting in South America. You are so right, we need to set up the exact time of our travel in the first place and then start looking around. I’ll check out the website and get registered. Thanks a lot!

  2. Very interesting post Charli. Are there any websites you recommend better than others? In your experience, is house sitting more work than free time or the other way around?

    1. Hi Federico, thanks for your comment. There are quite a number of websites however we have had the most success with trustedhousesitters.com – If you’re looking for well cared for homes on and off the tourist trail then THS have a superb portfolio and offer one of the most user friendly interfaces with which to connect to home owners.

      I would suggest doing some research into the areas you want to house sit, there are also websites that offer more specific assignments. ie farm stays, tourism property management etc more of a business exchange.

      House sitting has provided us with some fantastic opportunities and we can’t imagine travelling any other way!

  3. Hi We are on the same page. Love your easy to understand information.Have been looking into this for a while now. Its the visas that is going to be the hardest to organise and getting on going sits as airfares from Australia are steep!! Thanx for such a great blog cheers from Tasmania 🙂

  4. Great article, we thoroughly agree. We have been housesitting around the globe during the last two years. It is a great way to get a in-depth feel for a new place.

    We are fans of slow travel and this is the best way to explore the globe in search of your perfect abode.

  5. Thanks for your insights on creating a house sitting profile. We think it is a good idea to set up a small informational blog to direct potential homeowners. This way we are able to provide more photos and informational and a video. This can easily be done these days on sites such as wordpress.com and blogger and it can be done for free.

  6. Costa Rica is actually one I’ve been hearing a lot about for house sits… from what I’ve seen posted online there is more sits than sitters which is great for me as it’s somewhere I’m looking at going.

    Your advice is sound, I think I’ll check back here when I have my first house sit offers to make sure I can cross off a few of these things and make sure I’ve covered the important stuff.

    1. Hi Stacey,

      How do we get started? Did you go through an agency? Do you get paid most of the time? My husband and I recently retired and would love to do this. We’re wanderer at heart but have worked hard and raised 4 children. Time to wander. Can you direct us? Donna

      1. Hi Donna, there are a number of house sitting platforms online that connect home owners with people like you and I who are willing to house sit. We recommend joining Trustedhousesitters.com because they have the largest portfolio of assignments all over the world. Google search house sitting and the destinations you want to visit and see which sites offer assignments there. Best of luck!

    1. We’re currently half way through our 26th house sitting assignment and have so many memorable moments from the last 4 years of sits! I hope you have an enjoyable time when you start house sitting yourself! It has totally transformed our experience of travel!

  7. Someone tell me how to get started. We just retired and would love to get started. Please help. Thank you. Donna

  8. I would like to join the “free housesitting” so that I can travel to another country to do housesitting or petsitting.

  9. So interesting! I might try this in the US for a little bit before going abroad (we plan to study abroad in Germany next year). My main concern is what house sitters can expect in regards to protection for cancelled house sits. I’d be devastated to book a flight somewhere only to have the home owner cancel on me, and then be left scurrying to find last-minute accommodation at an exorbitant rate. Is that just the risk that comes with house sitting?

    1. We’ve secured almost 30 assignments to date and we have had 2 home owners who have had to cancel for reasons beyond their control. I don’t think its something that should stop you from accepting an assignment however. We have had some fantastic adventures when our plans have changed last minute, and have found that the home owners have been very keen to help us rework our plans. I wish you all the best n your search for sits in the USA this summer! What a great way to see your home country and get some valuable references for when you’re applying to house sit abroad!

  10. As my youngest finishes high school, I’m looking for something for me, some way to travel the world, see new places, meet new people and cultures. Would really enjoy guidance.

  11. Very interested in learning more about this opportunity. My wife and I live in the states and are nearing retirement. We are physical fit and in good health. Question: What is the best accredited institute to receive a certificate for home sitting? I want one that will give merit to our portfolio since we would starting out with no past experience. Any help.
    Thanks, John

    1. Hi John, thank you for your comment, great to hear that you’re considering having your house sitting adventure.

      To be honest I do not think anyone need worry about being an accredited house sitter, there is no course or training you need spend money on before applying to house sit for a home owner.

      House sitting involves being respectful of others’ property, following instructions to the letter, and using common sense. If you are a contentious and respectful person who understands that by house sitting you are agreeing to step into someone else’s shoes and live as they do whilst they are away from home, then you are more than qualified.

      If you are keen to gain some experience I would suggest asking friends and family to task you with the responsibility of their property and/or pets for a day or two. This will give you a feel for house sitting and allow you to provide a reference when first applying for a house sit.

      Have you registered with a house sitting platform and created a profile? I highly recommend TrustedHousesitters.com, they have lots of great information for first time sitters 🙂

      Wishing you all the very best!

  12. I am a single Mom with a 2-year-old and we are looking at housesitting, as a way to travel. Do you know if having a child will be a problem with securing assignments?

    1. Hi there, each assignment is unique and each home owner will list a different set of requirements. Don’t be put off, just make sure you consider any factors that would affect your position when applying for house sits ie. you probably wouldn’t want to be caring for a menagerie of animals, animals that do not like children, or homes unsuitable for little ones.

  13. I need to convince my husband to do this…leave his full time job, sell our house and home school our two girls 9 & 6 years old. Thoughts to talk to him about??? I am serious. WE need to check out of the rat race!!!!

    1. Hi Diane,

      Thanks for stopping by! I think taking the plunge and becoming full time nomads is an exciting thought, but it definitely has to work for you all. I can yarn on for hours about the incredible education travel has provided me, but I had already completed my schooling when I gave up the reality I knew and pursued a life of adventure. I would suggest reaching out to travelling families like the Benders – travelwithbender.com or the Makepeace family – ytravelblog.com with questions regarding home schooling and travelling with children – all I can say is that full time travel has enriched my life far more than I could ever have imagined!

  14. Not easy to get started as a beginner with so much competition. I wish the websites would offer a free membership until you get your first assignment!

  15. If house/pet sitting is the only type of work I plan to do while abroad is it necessary to have a work visa for the country I’m house/pet sitting in? Planning a trip to the UK and would like to house sit, but not sure if I have to have a work visa to do this. Thanks.

  16. Howdo I get a such housesitting job it seems difficult to get started
    If there is one thousand housesitters on one house care employer then why would one pay a fee when the chance of getting one
    is so
    small

  17. Great checklist Charli! I am leaving for the first of 6 house/pet sitting assignments over the coming months. I’ll get to spend most months in warm weather areas, but in October and November I’ll be in the UK. My research (and knowledge) tells me to expect cooler/wetter weather, so I’m prepared to swap out my warm travel luggage for my winter travel luggage.

    I’ve compiled a few options for services that transports luggage to wherever you are, but do you recommend any other options for dealing with the challenges of toting around or having appropriate weather clothing stored or transferred to where you are staying?

    I plan to have a small luggage left behind here in my “home city” of Vancouver, then when it gets closer to my first date to be in the UK, I would have it sent there to my first house sit and have my warmer clothes sent back until I hit the warmer climates again in my itinerary.

    Any tips for traversing between world climates and the challenges of lugging all those clothes around?

    Ed
    Digital Nomad/Newbie Housesitting World Traveler (I work in my digital agency as a strategist and in business development, anywhere I can setup my laptop and have internet connectivity!)

    1. What you’ve outlined sound like a great idea Ed. I wasn’t in a position to have luggaged shipped ahead of me when travelling between climates so I found that I’d literally just ditch and/or switch my wardrobe. I would utilise sites like Ebay and Gumtree to buy second hand clothes on the cheap if I was dipping into a new climate for a short time, or ditch my cold weather gear and buy new warm weather gear to refill my suitcase with! I think it depends how frequently you are switching climates another option would be to travel with a half-and-half suitcase of cold and warm gear! It means being very frugal but with multi-way wear items this can work well.

  18. I recently checked a solo trip to Australia off my bucket list. The combination of an insanely cheap RT fare between Chicago and Sydney and a very favorable exchange rate was very beneficial to my budget, but I really wish I’d considered also housesitting on the trip! I’d like to try it for future trips, and I was wondering whether it took much effort to get your first housesitting gig after joining TrustedHousesitters. Given that it costs $120 to join, I’m just a bit concerned about how easy it is to actually land something and establish yourself. Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi Carla,

      Thank you for your comment! Sounds like you managed to bag a great deal on airfares over to AUS. I wish it was more affordable to travel there from the UK!

      In response to your question regarding TrustedHousesitters, I have to say that when I joined the platform was less than a year old and so due to the fact that there were less sitters registered I found that I secured a sit very quickly.

      I have noticed that in recent years it is now more challenging to secure sits in the more popular destinations, however if you can be flexible on your choice of location and dates this is a big advantage. I think creating a really stand-out profile and getting verified helps a lot. As well as actively applying for sits in a range of places, and really tailoring each application.

      Hope that’s helpful! Best of luck.

  19. Hi there! I am very interested in this type of lifestyle. But have absolutely noo idea how to get started. I am a single, college grad who has student loans to pay off. I am a people person and very much enjoy traveling! I have worked in a variety of locations doing a variety of jobs and house sat in the USA several times this year. I am interested in positions where I am able to use their vehicles during my stay as well make money that covers my travel costs to the home (flights, taxi’s visa’s), as well as pays me an income outside of home mantenance so that I would be able to travel while there as well as make payments on student loans and build my savings. Could you please contact me about the best way to get started on a lifestyle like yours 🙂 thanks so much.

  20. Charli, I was wondering whether or not being located overseas, i.e. not in the same country as the housesit, has every hindered your application? I am looking at a few housesitting opportunities in San Francisco over the Christmas period, but, living in Australia, I am not sure if my application will really get a look-in. Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Maddy,

      Thanks for your comment, I’m thrilled to heat that you’re considering house sitting as a way to travel. In my experience it is completely down to the owner as to whether they are comfortable accepting applications from overseas. I myself have had great success applying for abroad and would suggest that it is more about your application than your current proximity to to the owner’s home. I would suggest making sure that your sitter profile is tip top, and if you haven’t already received any reviews, look to take on some local sits in order to gain both experience and credentials that will appear on your listing. Lastly, you should always send a tailored, thoughtful application message, make mention of the owner’s pets by name and give basic details about any relevant experience. Best of luck!

    1. Hi Chandler,

      All of my house sitting stay are an exchange for free accommodation. Websites like TrustedHousesitters only provide a platform for this kind of arrangement because they are not an agency. There are agency services out there so I would suggest searching online if you feel that payment is something you would ask for in order to house and pet sit.

      Best of luck!

  21. I am very interested in house sitting but I have a therapy dog. Do you know anything about therapy dogs being able to join the sitter? I have done a lot of traveling but would want her to join in the adventures. Thanks

  22. I have owned my own houses, cleaned and maintained my own pool, mowed my own yard, and took care of many cats:) I just sold it all and it’s time to go live an adventure!! Having been a homeowner, and hired my own house sitters, I know what is expected! Keep the pool clear, and the animals happy:))

  23. I’ve been interested in learning more about house sitting internationally- I just can’t get myself to pay the initial fee to get signed up! This was a great post- lots of good information!

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